A Bold Suggestion For Cuba

Peter F. Schaefer writes in TCS Daily:

Writing in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Julia Sweig, the Director of Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations,[…] “…that moment has come and gone …the post-Fidel transition is already well under way. Power has been successfully transferred to a new set of leaders, whose priority is to preserve the system while permitting only very gradual reform.”

and then suggests:

President Bush could speak from the Oval Office and say to the Cuban people:

“We are close to you Cubans geographically, economically, socially and historically. Americans died to liberate you from Spanish oppression and gave you sovereignty four years later.

“But the sad truth is that for decades we then supported authoritarian regimes and business investments that were not in the best interests of the Cuban people. And so perhaps someone like Mr. Castro was inevitable. If American actions led to Mr. Castro, we regret this since he has taken the Cuban people down an unproductive path. As a result, you all now live in greater poverty and with less freedom than you ever would have suffered had you gradually evolved to true democracy as so many of your neighbors have done.

“But that is the past. Today Cubans are an important part of America’s population and Spanish is virtually our second language. Cubans have found success because the American system supports their talents. They have used the American system to work their way up in business, sports and politics.

“America has let you down before and I would like to propose one possible way for us to begin again. I am prepared to use the power of my presidency to propose to Congress and the American people that they pass legislation which would open the way for Cubans to choose to become the 51st state in our union.

“If you choose to join our union, you would get a modern system of laws and in one moment, become fully integrated in the largest economy in the world, as well as the larger global economy.

“If you agree with me through open elections, I would propose to the American people and our Congress that Cuba be granted Commonwealth status, like Puerto Rico, for six years while resident Cubans themselves work to create a constitution, establish the rule of law, elect all your officials and invest American federal funds in needed social and physical infrastructure in Cuba.

“As you no doubt know, the USA is a federation of fifty states each of which has enormous power under our constitution in the areas of taxation, laws, policing and elections. States even have the right to form and maintain a militia of their citizens under the command of the governor, and Cuba would be no different.

“This offer should not be viewed by the Cuban people as an indication that America will ever take the initiative to have Cuba join our nation. While we believe that there are strong economic, social, political and even geographic reasons for federation, no territory has become a part of the USA except by means of a majority of people in that territory requesting entry. Cuba would be no different. As a Commonwealth, Cuba could – like Puerto Rico – choose to become a state, remain a commonwealth or become an independent nation. The six years of Commonwealth status could be used by Cubans to modernize and prepare to become a modern, independent state, or a member of the United States. It’s up to you. The door is open.”

Read the whole thing, it is interesting.

My own suggestions for Cuba are much more modest. I think Cuba must be post-Castro for a generation before it would want to join USAv3 as one or more states.

I do like his ideas. So, go ahead and make the offer, then back off and let the private sector and individuals do the rest.

2 Responses

  1. I think Julia Sweig is spot-on…. but the offer Schaefer proposes is certainly one of a number of excellent ways the US could improve relations with Cuba. It only takes presidental leadership, perhaps starting with the State of the Union. We have a lot of common ground to cover as countries and peoples. Let’s get started on that.

  2. Schaefers idea is interesting. I’d be inclined to deliver such a proposition to Mexico first, however.

    In reality, I agree spot on with your own take. End the embargo, begin a social fusion between Cuban ex-pats and their native counterparts, and let go of the lingering Cold War ideology.

    Of course, somewhere in that equation are the Chavistas.

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